I try not to take TV cancellations personally, but ABC’s axing of Take Two after just one season hurt. I initially tuned into the “summer’s sexiest ride along” hoping for the spiritual successor to Castle, given that the two shows share creators Terri Edda Miller and Andrew Marlowe. I found neither the superficial romance the trailers promised nor the Castle copy that I expected. Instead, I discovered an enjoyable, smart, creative series worthy of my attention on its own merits. While I don’t begrudge a network for making a business decision, Take Two deserves more than thirteen episodes. And rumor has it that a couple streaming services are interested. Here’s why that interest should turn into action.
First, let’s consider the state of the world right now. Without starting a political argument (I’ll save that for Thanksgiving tomorrow), I’ll simply point out that times must be bad if The Handmaid’s Tale mimics reality. Excuse me for wanting an escape. Take Two’s plots engage me and I wish the characters were my friends. I care not that it often follows a typical procedural formula. Some may call the series derivative; I call it comfortable. I love watching sparks fly between Sam and Eddie even though I know they’ll end up together. Plus, who doesn’t like each episode’s new kick-ass hairstyle for Berto or quirky outfit for Monica? With all the dark TV floating around lately, we could all use a little fun to take the edge off. In some ways, Take Two resembles an airport novel. Despite its lack of critical acclaim, it must be doing something right if it entertains the audience so well that we forget about reality. Even if that distraction only lasts 40 minutes at a time.
While some may dismiss Take Two as mindless entertainment, I reject such a label for any artistic output (see this blog’s name). Consider protagonist Sam Swift’s struggle with alcoholism. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when a star deals with substance abuse — just ask People about their coverage of Ben Affleck’s recent struggles. Take Two avoids lazy cliches. Rather, it explores Sam’s issues with refreshing nuance. For as long as she lives, the general public will always remember her as the star celeb who fell from grace. And yet, she carves out a fulfilling life for herself regardless. Through her work as a private investigator, she learns that the good she puts into the world outweighs the opinions of strangers. Her story serves as a road map to those struggling with addiction or mental illness. From watching Swift, these viewers can see how helping others helps oneself. More people should see such a helpful message of hope.
Finally, in 2018, do I need to reiterate that representation matters? In the year of Crazy Rich Asians and Steve Aoki’s Waste It On Me, roles for Asians in entertainment keep expanding beyond the stereotypes of yesteryear. Take Two continues to push the envelope. Check out stars Xavier de Guzman and Alice Lee discussing their complex roles on the show. Guzman has the privilege of playing a free-spirited tech expert (texpert?) rather than the usual “Gangster No. 1;” Lee gets to expand her repertoire with the role of a psych student whose aloof exterior belies her soft side. Alone, these characters already stand out; together, they shine. In my personal favorite moment of the show, Lee’s Monica lifts Guzman’s Berto’s spirits by showing him an online dating profile of a cool, interesting, kind dude she found. Turns out, she wrote it, and he’s the subject. Whether their relationship blossoms into a fiery romance or a steady friendship, these two characters deserve the chance to grow further. The more unique storylines Asian actors have the opportunity to portray, the more the entertainment we consume will reflect the society we live in.
I know enough about Nielsen Ratings to understand why ABC pulled the plug on Take Two, and I don’t know enough about measuring viewership via social media to understand if the series is a worthwhile financial investment for streaming services. That said, I know a quality show when I see one. This lighthearted dramedy gives viewers comfort and fun while still providing substance beneath the surface. So somebody, please, anybody, #SaveTakeTwo.